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FAS Note: In the following letter from 1998, the Pentagon deflected an Energy Department recommendation to increase the classification level of certain very sensitive nuclear weapons information from Secret (RD) to Top Secret (RD). Despite additional efforts by DOE, the overall recommendation was again rejected by the Pentagon in 1999. See this December 1999 letter.

Office of the Under Secretary of Defense (Policy)
2000 Defense Pentagon
Washington, DC 20301-2000

1 April 1998

Mr. W. Gerald Gibson
Director, Technical Guidance Division
Office of Declassification
Office of Security Affairs
Department of Energy
Germantown, MD 20874-1290

Dear Mr. Gibson:

We have reviewed your request of March 9, 1998 recommending that certain topics of classified information in CG-W-5, TCG-NAS-2 and TCG-UC-2 should be upgraded to TOP SECRET based on criteria discussed at working group meetings in July and October 1997. We agree that the working group made substantial progress in discussing the upgrading issue and its impact on the two Departments. However, since we understand that the proposals in your 9 March letter are currently under review with the Department of Energy (DOE) laboratories, and, therefore, are not yet a consolidated DOE recommendation, we believe it is premature to ask our Department of Defense (DoD) components to review the proposals.

Additionally, the criteria for upgrading must be agreed upon before useful review of topics can occur. Based on our review of the minutes from the July 1997 meeting, we recommend that the "MGH Alternative Formulation" of the general criteria for upgrading information to TOP SECRET be used. That alternative formulation is: "TSRD: Information that would enable a proliferant or nuclear power to manufacture a nuclear weapon without further R&D or testing. Weapon Design information is TSRD if it is in sufficient detail to allow the design to be copied and used with a high degree [of confidence] that it would produce a substantial fraction of the design yield."

We appreciate your efforts to continue the momentum of this initiative and look forward to reviewing DOE's recommendations upon completion of its internal coordination.

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